• During a rehearsal of “For Unto Us a Child is Born,” sung by the Royal Choral Society, Sir Malcolm Sargent was displeased. He admonished the singers, “Just a little more reverence, please — and not quite so much astonishment.”
• When Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu announced her intention to become a nun, Lazar, her brother, who was a soldier, reacted with disbelief because his sister was a vivacious young woman. But Gonxha replied that Lazar was proud to be serving a king who ruled over a few million subjects, while she would be serving the King of the entire world: God. Later, Gonxha became better known as Mother Teresa.
• A warrior appeared before Mulla Nasrudin to ask for a honorific name. The warrior said, “Mulla, all the great warriors of the past have had honorific titles with the name ‘God’ in them; for example, ‘God-Gifted’ and ‘God-Accepted.’ What name can you give to me?” Nasrudin replied, “God forbid.”
• Before a United States men’s ice-skating championship competition, Evelyn Kramer, a coach from Lake Arrowhead, California, told skater Michael Weiss, “Hey, Michael, good luck. You could be our first Jewish national singles champion.” Mr. Weiss replied, “Uh, I’m Methodist.”
• At Ferney, Voltaire built a church. This inscription appeared over its porch: Dei Erexit Voltaire. Translated: “Voltaire Erected [This] to God.” Visitors used to look at the inscription and remark, “Two great names.”
New Year’s Eve
• Buddhists believe that there are exactly 108 sins, and at Buddhist temples on New Year’s Eve they hit a bell exactly 108 times, always waiting for the sound of one bong to die down before they hit the bell again.
• When Jay Leno was growing up, one firm rule he had to follow was to never take the Lord’s name in vain. His mother used to tell him, “People might steal money because they have to eat. Or maybe they get into a fight to protect somebody, then they go to prison. But there’s no reason to ever take the Lord’s name in vain.” After Jay grew up and became a famous comedian, he and his father were watching a fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard on television. A fighter was hit hard and fell — and in the excitement Jay took the Lord’s name in vain. His mother heard him, walked into the TV room, and BONK — she hit him on the side of his head with a pot. Then she told Jay, “You’ll not say that in this house!” His father agreed with his mother.
• Someone once questioned Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s assertion that early Judaism promoted strong parent-child relationships. The questioner asked, “Isn’t it true that God’s first commandment to Abraham was that he leave his father’s home?” Rabbi Telushkin replied, “It is true. But he was 75 at the time; he was entitled.”
• During Passover Jews eat unleavened bread because their ancestors didn’t have time to cook leavened bread as they fled out of Egypt. Rabbi Israel Lipkin Salanter usually supervised the cooking of the unleavened bread (matzos) for Passover; however, one Passover eve he was too ill to go to the bakery to supervise the cooking, so two of his pupils offered to go in his place. Before leaving, they asked the rabbi if there was anything special that they should do while supervising. The rabbi answered, “Yes. See to it that the woman who does the mixing of the ingredients is paid well for her work — she is a poor widow.”
• In 1978, refusenik Yosef Mendelovich celebrated Passover in a Soviet prison. The candle was made of bits of string and a few drops of oil. The bitter herbs — maror — appeared in the form of mustard that had originally been intended as a therapeutic plaster for a back problem. The greenery was supplied by an onion bulb that had been soaked in water. The wine came from raisins in water. The most important item — the Haggadah — Mr. Mendelovich had previously copied into a small notebook before giving the original copy to another refusenik — Anatoly Sharansky.
• A rabbi once preached a sermon about rich people giving to poor people for Passover. After giving the sermon, the rabbi felt that the sermon was only partially successful — the poor were ready to receive, but the rich were not ready to give.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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